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Life expectancy by ethnic group in England

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 09 November 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:e068537
  1. Raghib Ali, senior clinical research associate,
  2. Veena Raleigh, senior fellow2,
  3. Azeem Majeed, professor3,
  4. Kamlesh Khunti, professor4
  1. 1MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Kings Fund, Health Policy, London, UK
  3. 3Imperial College, Primary Care, London, UK
  4. 4University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  1. Correspondence to: R Ali raghib.ali{at}

A complex picture of disparities emerges from latest ONS analysis

The disproportionate effect of covid-19 on ethnic minority populations led to a welcome and overdue focus on ethnic disparities in health.1 Their higher covid-19 mortality was widely viewed as having exacerbated pre-existing health inequalities, particularly for Black and South Asian people.12 Although previous evidence had shown a more mixed pattern of ethnic differences in health outcomes,34 our knowledge and understanding have been limited by a lack of nationally representative data on mortality by ethnic group. The first Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates of life expectancy and cause-specific mortality by ethnicity based on census data are therefore timely.56

These show that for the prepandemic period 2012-19, the White ethnic group had lower life expectancy and higher overall mortality than all ethnic minority groups except the Mixed group. For individual causes of death, the picture was more varied, with ethnic minority groups generally having lower mortality than the White group for half of the 30 leading causes of death (responsible for about 80% of all deaths). Potential reasons for …

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